Vital Kamerhe Elected Speaker of DRC National Assembly Amid Political Turmoil

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KINSHASA, May 22 (Reuters) – The Democratic Republic of Congo’s national assembly elected Vital Kamer as speaker in a delayed vote on Monday, a crucial step towards forming a government five months after a presidential election. Kamerhe’s home had been violently attacked the previous Sunday.

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Kamerhe, a close ally of President Felix Tshisekedi, now holds the second-highest authority in the Central African nation. Of the 407 members of parliament who voted, 371 supported Kamerhe’s candidacy. MPs are also set to vote on candidates for six other positions in the lower house.

This vote paves the way for Congo to appoint a new government, which has been absent since the December 2023 presidential election that secured Tshisekedi a second term. On April 1, Tshisekedi appointed Judith Suminwa as Congo’s first female prime minister.

The vote, originally scheduled for May 18, was delayed by Tshisekedi. On May 19, Congolese security forces reported foiling an attempted coup and repelling an attack on Kamerhe’s home in central Kinshasa. Kamerhe’s spokesman, Michel Moto Muhima, confirmed that two guards were killed in the attack.

The Sacred Union, Tshisekedi’s coalition, commands a majority in parliament with at least 90% of the 500 seats. Kamerhe, 65, has a history of political collaboration with Tshisekedi, campaigning with him in the 2018 presidential election and serving as his chief of staff and deputy prime minister of the economy. In 2020, Kamerhe was arrested in a graft investigation.

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